Tech

Seeed Studios Odyssey is a mini-PC for big projects and small wallets

  • What can you do with a $200-ish mini-PC with plenty of power, tons of ports, and very few limitations? Jim Salter
  • Odyssey (left) is significantly larger than the ARM based Odroid XU4 (right). It's also significantly more powerful and expandable. Jim Salter
  • The clear lid on Odyssey's re_computer case lifts off for easy access, using a spudger or fine blade inserted into the seam to pry it loose from its magnetic contacts. Jim Salter

Today we're going to take a look at Seeed Studio's Odyssey X86J4105—a maker/builder-tailored, Celeron-powered mini-PC. The little device seems like what you'd get if a Chromebox and a Raspberry Pi made sweet, sweet love—it's a Celeron-powered all-in-one system-on-chip (SoC) board, sold without a case, with Raspberry Pi-compatible GPIO headers and an Arduino coprocessor for more hardware-based maker projects.

I have a confession to make: I've never really loved the Raspberry Pi. Heresy, I know! But despite how seriously cheap the much-loved little boxes are, they never seem quite powerful enough for the projects I'd be interested in tackling. On occasion, I've flirted with other ARM mini-PCs that are a little more expensive and a lot more powerful—like Odroid XU4, or the newer Odroid N2—but they still felt pretty constrained compared to even budget x86 PCs. The Odyssey seems tailor-made to address those performance concerns.

Specifications and capabilities

Specs at a glance: Odyssey X86J4105
OS Windows 10 Enterprise (activated)
CPU Quad-core Celeron J4105
RAM 8GiB LPDDR4
GPU integrated Intel UHD 600
Wi-Fi Dual-band Intel 9650 Wi-Fi 5 + Bluetooth 5.0
SSD Sandisk 64GB (59.6GiB) eMMC
Connectors
  • 40-pin Raspberry Pi-compatible GPIO
  • 28-pin Arduino header
  • 3.5mm audio combo jack
  • 2x Intel I211 1Gbps Ethernet
  • 1x SATA
  • 2x M.2 (1 B-key, 1 M-key)
  • 2x USB2 type-A
  • 1x USB3.1 type-A
  • 1x USB 3.1 type-C
  • 1x MicroSD card slot
  • 1x SIM (LTE) slot
  • 1x 12-19VDC power
Price as tested Odyssey with activated Win10 Enterprise: $258
Seeed re_computer case: $20

Seeed Studio Odyssey X86J4105 Mini PC

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Odyssey's quad-core Celeron SoC might not be a powerhouse by desktop standards—but it's more than powerful enough to run a full Windows 10 desktop experience. Add in 8GiB of RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, one SATA-III port, two 1Gbps Ethernet jacks, dual M.2 slots (one B-key and one M-key), Intel 9560 Wi-Fi, Intel UHD 600 graphics and a full-size HDMI port, and it's hard to figure out what this $260 box can't do.

If you're looking to control other hardware on a very low level, Odyssey also has a Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin GPIO header and a 28-pin header for its ATSAMD21 Arduino coprocessor. We're not set up to test those functions, but Odyssey maker Seeed is also the manufacturer of the well-reputed Grove sensor system—so when it tells us that the Odyssey's connectors and coprocessor are Grove-compatible, we're inclined to believe them.

When it comes to form factor, the Odyssey in its re_computer case reminds us most of an unusually geeky Chromebox. Like the Chromebox, Odyssey in the re_computer case is just larger than the VESA mounting plate on the back of a monitor—and also like the Chromebox, it has VESA compatible mounting holes on the back. You'll need to provide your own mounting studs if you want to take advantage of that option, though.

The re_computer case was frankly a little bit of a pain to assemble—the provided instructions consist of unlabeled diagrams only, and the diagrams aren't all accurate. In particular, we wished that they'd told us up front that the clear top lid of the re_computer was magnetically attached! The box lists the lid in the inventory as a separate part, but it's already snapped into the case itself, and it's not immediately clear that you can pry it loose easily with a spudger or other fine-edged tool.

Once you actually get the re_computer case assembled, it's extremely attractive and functional. Any of the parts you need to mess with can be accessed by removing the magnetically attached clear lid, and the external ports are all easy to get to and unobscured. We also really like the cheerful royal blue that the sides of the case are anodized with.

What can you do with an Odyssey?

  • Overhead view of the Odyssey X86J4105. The only thing not clearly labeled is the Intel 9560 Wi-Fi—just to the left of the NVMe SSD label. If installed, an M.2 PCIe SSD will cover this Wi-Fi chipset. Jim Salter
  • Bottom view of the Odyssey—just a pre-assembled heatsink and fan covering the entire underside of the board. Jim Salter
  • On the left side of the Odyssey, we see a DC barrel jack, two Intel gigabit Ethernet ports, an HDMI port, and two USB 2.0 ports. Jim Salter
  • On the top edge of the Odyssey board, we see 40-pin and 28-pin GPIO headers, for Pi hat and Arduino respectively. Jim Salter
  • On the right side of the Odyssey, we see connectors for a MicroSD card (non-bootable), USB 3.1 type A, USB 3.1 type C (charging supported), and a 3.5mm audio headphone/mic jack. Jim Salter
  • On the bottom edge of the Odyssey, there aren't any external ports—but we see a full-size SATA connector with three SATA power connectors, and an M.2 SATA slot that can be used for an SSD or for an LTE modem. Jim Salter

Odyssey's punchy Celeron J4105 processor is backed by plenty of RAM, storage, network, and graphics capabilities. Whether you prefer to run Windows or Linux, it can handle tasks that the CPU- and IO-limited Raspberry Pi series struggles with. If you want to build a high-end DIY router, it has dual gigabit Ethernet—and the J4105 CPU is significantly more powerful than the 1037U in our own Homebrew router.

If you're looking to build a Kodi or similar home theater PC system, the J4105 and its UHD 600 graphics are more than up to the task, at least up to 1080P—4K is passable, but some videos will exhibit a little frame drop. In our testing, 4K videos on Vimeo played flawlessly; 4K on YouTube was watchable but noticeably dropped a frame here and there.

You can even make a miniature fileserver out of the Odyssey. It offers one M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 slot that can accommodate a high-performance NVMe SSD and one full-size SATA-III connector that can be connected to any standard SATA drive. Add that full-speed, reliable connectivity to the 8GiB onboard RAM, and you've got enough machine to run FreeNAS, XigmaNAS, or the upcoming TrueNAS Core.

Finally, you can just make a very usable desktop computer out of it. The version we tested came pre-installed with a fully activated Windows 10 Enterprise—it can be run by itself or joined to a domain. You can also buy the Odyssey without the Windows 10 license, if you prefer a Linux desktop.

If whatever use case you've landed on needs cellular connectivity, Odyssey has you covered there as well—its M.2 B-keyed port can accommodate an LTE module (not included), and there's a SIM card socket as well.

Performance

  • The Odyssey's J4105 Celeron is slightly faster single-threaded, and massively faster multi-threaded than both our OG Homebrew Router and the Kano PC. Jim Salter
  • Passmark CPU testing shows about the same relationship that Geekbench 5 does. ("Homebrew" results on this chart are sourced from another Celeron 1037U system published on cpubenchmark.net.) Jim Salter
  • In multi-threaded Cinebench R20 results, we again see a crushing victory for the Odyssey over Kano PC and, this time, the Walmart EVOO. Jim Salter Read More – Source
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